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Dateline NBC

News/Business. Keith Morrison, Josh Mankiewicz, Hoda Kotb. Investigative journalism. (CC) (Stereo)

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Brett Schrauben 9, Geico 8, Jack Jessee 7, Arizona 7, Us 5, Brett 5, California 4, Jack 4, T.j. Garrick 4, Asap 3, Sandra 3, Murray 3, Ronny 2, Phoenix 2, New Jersey 2, Keith Morrison 2, Downy Unstopables 2, Glade Expressions Fragrance Mist 2, Patty 2, Hahaahahaha 2,
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  NBC    Dateline NBC    News/Business. Keith Morrison, Josh Mankiewicz,  
   Hoda Kotb. Investigative journalism. (CC) (Stereo)  

    November 5, 2012
    2:00 - 3:00am PST  

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we're trying to solve this murder. we were going to set a trap for three people and i wasn't sure if it was going to work or not. it had to be perfect. >> he was a family man who didn't seem to have an enemy in the world. right up until the night he was murdered. >> there was evidence of a violent struggle between jack and his killer. >> someone was keeping secrets and police thought they knew who. >> the very tone was just scary. >> they thought they knew the motive too, but -- >> the matter of proving it is a different story. >> until someone found the perfect bait. >> you need to [ bleep ] call me asap. >> could they set the perfect trap? >> these people might literally get away with murder.
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>> keith morrison with "deadly conspiracy." i'm lester holt. when someone is murdered and the killer is still free, families never give up hope and a good detective never gives up looking. this case was tougher than most. the trail was as cold as it gets and no physical evidence. it was the kind of puzzle most detectives hate but one detective lived for. here's keith morrison. >> the game is called mouse trap. the little ball on its track, the tiny taunting mice which unless every lever works in unison will not be caught. and how often things go wrong to allow the mice to get away. so odd that what really happened could so clearly mimic a children's game. these are the people it happened to. the jesse clan of california.
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they vacationed together, shared birthdays, even got together for a monthly game of ten pin. but what these grainy home videos don't show is what is yet to come. which is murder, conspiracy. one branch of family against the other. a game so twisted, mice so clever, that crafting a plot to catch them might be impossible. to begin with, it was 1998. shei shakespeare in love won the oscar. monica lewinsky was freshly famous. it was the hottest night of the year when cheryl got a strange call from her dad jack jesse. >> i was getting ready for bed and it was my dad on the phone.
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>> what time was this? >> it was 20 after 9:00. >> he was worried about his wife sandra. she was missing. >> what did he think had happened? >> he thought maybe she was in an accident or something. >> she had run to this nearby mall to run an errand but was gone so long. would cheryl please find her, asked her dad. >> burger king, walmart and supposed to be back. >> and when she went back into her dad's house, she found -- >> one of the worst scenes in my life. he was face down in a pool of blood. >> what did you think had happened there? >> i thought he had fallen because he had a gash on the back of his head. i called 911. >> but when she rolled him over, she could see wounds all across his chest. he was stabbed. >> every time i did cpr into him, i could hear bubbling and
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escaping. then i could feel it on his chest. >> it's not often this town has a murder. >> it was about 10:00 at night i got the call. >> at the time he was the sole detective. >> what did the crime scene look like? >> it was bloody. there was an apparent struggle. >> the type if it was a home invasion, assault? >> or between people who knew each other. >> look first at who reported the crime which was his daughter. cheryl. >> the daughter, we had to look at her as a potential suspect. she was the one who found him. >> back at the stage wyatt interviewed all of sheryl's relatives. >> mrs. jesse came to the station with us said she wanted to help solve the murder of her
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husband. >> and she told him about life with jack. married 14 years, blended family, four kids between them. jack was a patriarch in the jesse clan, she said. a teddy bear of a man, well liked, well to do. >> jack was a very loving person who doetd on his children, doted on his stepchildren, doted on his grandchildren. >> but jack was ill house bound after colon cancer surgery. she had been running a bit of a mercy mission for jack and dawdled too long at the mall. >> she was very specific about where she had gone at what times and why she had gone there. >> as for cheryl, she told detectives she'd do anything to find out what happened to her dad in those 15 minutes she was away from the house. >> her actions were consistent with somebody who understands the police are looking at me right now. i know i didn't do anything.
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i'm going to do everything ki to give full disclosure. >> and then after the murder, a guy walked into a bar, sat down on the bar stool and told the bar tender a story. about how the murder happened. about who did it. about what the motive was. the whole story. but of course that was just a story in a bar. detective wyatt didn't hear anything about it. as he continued to dig for clues, he hit an unexpected wall. sandra announced she had now helped as much as she could. she was done. >> i was referred to her attorney and she refused to meet with us again. >> and jack's stepchildren, while jack's blood relations practically begged to help solve the case. so what happened to that big happy family in the video? a mirage, perhaps? in fact, living with sandra said jack's daughter was like a fairy
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tale. t the kind brin by the brothers grim. >> she want med gone. he was a big momma's boy to the point of being strange. very weird. weird thing to watch. >> you'they're always walking i the other room and closing the door. >> though jack seemed quite happy with sandra until the spring of '98, that is, just a few months before the murder when jack was diagnosed with colon cancer. a shock, of course. but one of two shocks for sandra. and to those around her, the second seemed somehow worse. her beloved son tom up and moved to arizona. >> and she was flipping out about it. she had to go there. >> she demanded jack move to arizona too. >> that woman was off her rocker. her tone was just scary.
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i never even -- it's like somebody else's voice out of her. >> but surely that wasn't motive enough for murder? and with plenty of suspicion, but little else to go on, wyatt spent months pouring over sandra and jack's phone records, bank statements, credit card bills, searching for he didn't know what he was searching for, but he was getting basically nowhere. >> we couldn't establish a pattern that was suspicious. >> then as wyatt's investigation sputtered, sandra left. sold jack's house here in california, moved to arizona to be near her son tom. and soon her daughter followed too. and they all lived within a couple of blocks of each other in homes sandra helped purchase with jack's insurance money and savings. >> when everything was said and done, she got close to $700,000. >> and as the months slipped past, leads failed, the investigation hit one dead end after another. and wyatt was promoted out of
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homicide. the case bounced from the pd to the orange county sheriff's department where before long it became a case to avoid. toxic, an unsolvable career killer. until five years after his brother's murder when david jesse met a detective named tom dove who said he'd picked up the case. >> i said oh really? i said that's great. let me ask you a question. yeah. what are you going to do? you going to get the case for three, four, five months and then move up? become a sergeant or something and move on? and tom said to me, listen, buddy. nobody likes me in my department. i'm not going nowhere. he says i got five years to put in your brother's case. and then i retire and i'm out of here. he said but i'll give it my all. i will give everything to this case that i have. i looked over at him, and i said
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you're the man. >> what david didn't know but clearly sensed was that detective tom dove was the real deal. a legendary law man who seemed to step out of his own primetime drama. >> there wasn't a whole lot to go on. there wasn't a lot of physical evidence, no eyewitnesses. >> in other words, the perfect challenge. >> correct. when we come back, that bar tender with the customer who liked to talk? now he's talking too. >> this person has specific details unknown to the general public. >> not only that, he's naming names. when "deadly conspiracy" continues. hi, i'm amy for downy unstopables in-wash scent boosters, here with my favorite new intern, jimmy. mmm! fresh! and it's been in the closet for 12 weeks! unbelievable! unstopables! i'll show you how! ♪ just shake them into the washer i can't believe this lasts 12 weeks! neither can they. so you're going on tour to prove it.
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string of homicide detectives, the jack jessee murder case had become a case to avoid. and then one day the business was handed off to tom dove. >> i can't tell you how many times that i thought just move on. give up. move on. >> there was no hope of any new
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evidence, of course, like fingerprints or dna. there was just the infuriating puzzle which became more difficult each passing year. >> after i reviewed the case, i had no feeling for the family. no feeling for jack jessee. >> so to get in the feeling, he met with the family. >> when i met with david, he inspired me. his determination not to let the love for his brother go was a big motivating factor. >> but david also had some provocative information. something jack told him after arguing with sandra after moving to arizona. >> if anything ever happens to me, it's her. >> not the only time jack said such a thing, it turns out. >> he actually told me i wouldn't be surprised if the bitch killed me. he said that. >> so dove went into all the original files hoping he would come across something that was overlooked. and inside he found this.
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a simple two-page report apparently unread by any detective. remember the guy who walked into the bar, the one who told a story about the jessee murder? well, years later when the case went cold, the bar tender decided to call the placnetia cops. and they stuck it in the file where it was unseen until tom dove came along. >> two things caught my mind when i read it. one, whoever the caller is knew how many stab wounds were involved. and two, the caller stated that the person had used a back door or a window to enter the residence that night. that was significant in that this person had specific details unknown to the general public about the murder of jack jessee. >> most of the tipster's information was vague like a riddle. yet another game to be played.
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there were two killers yet he gave no name. one had a knife. the other had the getaway car. both worked at a big box department store. the man who told the story in the bar that day had been the driver of the car and with the blood money he bought a truck and a sea do. but when it came to who was behind the plot, that's when they named named. they were sandra's son under the direction of the master mind herself, jack's wife sandra. so with that new perspective on the case, doug revisited sandra's own interview. the hours of mostly useless chatter. >> how many times did you listen to that? >> at least ten times. >> and then it jumped out at him. right about here on the tape, sandra is going through slips of paper in her day planner. she looks at one and says.
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>> this is my son's friend. one phrase in hours of material that got dove's mind racing. if the bar tender was right that it was a friend of her son's. there it was. the day planner seized five years earlier just after the murder. >> i went through that day planner for probably a day or more. went through every scratch, piece of paper, notation, everything that was put into place in that day planner was looked at. there was a small piece of note paper with the name which appeared to me at that time to say schauber. >> that's all it said? >> i thought so, yes. >> but where we he find this schraber. unearthed one more clue when asked about the friend, sandra
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said the boys were once work buddies. >> they work together. >> so detective dove crisscrossed southern california searching the employment record of every target store for a guy named schrauber. but nobody heard of him. >> we were starting to come to the end of our rope. dead end. >> that was about the time jack's daughter shiree said she was getting strange packages in the mail from sandra. >> like what? >> bowling bags and ashtrays. junk. they kept coming. >> hatred more than i had before. >> sandra seemed to be telling them she'd beaten them. >> we said are we cursed? is there something with this case and it's not going to be
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solve snd. >> it's frustrating for him to put all this work in and these people might literally get away with murder? >> patty is tom's wife. they've been together since high school. knows him better than anyone. she was used to his compulsive perfectionism. >> it's comforting to know where things are and where we're going. >> his nothing out of place sense of order. >> he's a very stubborn man. so for him to take a case, he's going to do it and solve it. >> and so detective dove decided to start over. take a different approach this time. he immersed himself in sandra's old phone bills seized by detective wyatt years before. >> what i did is i went through every telephone call on those phone records looking for somebody related to this case. there had to be some communication. >> get anywhere? >> yeah. >> what dove found that had been
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overlooked before was a cluster of called not long before the murder close to each other. one was to a target store, one was to a pager, and one was a boarding house. he called that last number and if anybody there knew a guy named schrauber. and the land lady said nope but there was once a man named scrauben. could he be it? >> it was schrauben, not scrauber. >> so he tracked him down. and in the driveway was a pickup truck and the sea doo. just what the bar tender said. >> this was a huge break for us. we now had a name of somebody involved in jack jessee's murder. coming up -- >> often people throw away valuable evidence. >> detective dove finds treasure in trash.
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>> this is too good to be true. >> when "dateline" continu
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investigation had been six years of dead ends, bad breaks, blind alleys. now on the trail of a suspect, tom dove was about to start a new game. one where he could write the rule book. but it would be very complicated because dove wanted more than just a getaway drivers, brett schrauben. he wanted the murderer. >> the only way to tie them together was to do a wiretap. >> but wiretaps are difficult to get. dove needed permission from a judge. and to get that, he needed to prove schrauben was still in contact with tom and tom's mother sandra. it was a catch 22. so time to get creative.
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>> it had been my experience when i worked in the narcotics section of the department that often people throw away valuable evidence. >> dove asked his fellow detectives to help him because he decided to search schrauben's garbage. >> what'd they tell you when you came up with that idea? you're crazy? >> i think their first idea was i'm really losing it now. >> so faithfully once a week he got off at daybreak and made the hour long journey to schrauben's home. >> we would have the truck dump the trash in a somehow of a pile here regardless of the size. >> right on the tarmac. >> right on the tarmac, scatter everything out. every bag. get on our hands and knees and slowly sift through every piece of paper that looked like it might be a document of some
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kind. >> and that's how dove's team found this coffee stained phone bill. showing call after call from schrauben to sandra's son tom in arizona. >> and that number, tom's number popped up how often would that pop up? >> i think the average we figured out was about 24 times in a billing cycle. about a month. so every day to every other day. it was almost like going to a crime scene and finding pieces of evidence. it's an excitement that you realize this is going to work. we are going to find what we're looking for. >> but there was yet again a problem. schrauben's phone was in someone else's name. and to get a wiretap, dove would have to prove schrauben was the primary user. so how would he do that? >> what we ended up having to do was literally follow brett schrauben around until we saw him on his telephone. we took that even further in that i went into the target store that he was working at one
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day. i noticed he was stocking shelves in a certain section of the store. so i started randomly picking up items and looking interested. at that point i called on my phone to one of my other investigators. i said put a call in now to the phone. i heard him answer the phone. i was able to say that was his phone. he talks on it. we put the phone in his hand. >> but as they continued to sift through trash week after week, they found something even more important than the phone bill. something quite unexpected. this day planner. >> from the years '96, '97, and 1998. >> what were the chances of that? here years later was the planner for 1998, the year jack jessee was murdered. >> a treasure we didn't expect to find, but what that day planner did was connected all the people back in 1998 that were associated with brett schrauben. >> what'd you think? >> this is too good to be true. i thought good things were going
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to happen. somebody's back on our side again. >> and with this evidence, dove was able to get a judge to approve a wiretap on schrauben's phone. then as he waited for it to go into effect, he kept going through the trash. maybe he'd find something more. and, indeed, he did. and it turned the case upside down. he found rental listings in arizona. brett schrauben was moving out of the state, would be gone before the wiretap ruling took effect. and in arizona, california warrant was worthless. >> this completely took all that work and we're talking probably six months of work and just threw it out the window. >> the killers had slipped the trap. game over. when we come back, detectives build a new and better mouse trap. and guess who takes the bait. >> it's me. you need to [ bleep ] call me
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after two years of relentless police work, tom dove's investigation of the murder of jack jessee had generated enough evidence to fill this mail cart. all apparently for naught. the suspect and his key for cracking the case had skipped the state. and detective dove's jurisdiction. >> we were so close. >> the jessee family sensed dove had been beaten and sandra jessee had won. got away with murder. >> i put his pictures away. it was tough. he was so fantastic. >> put his pictures away. >> i had to. >> couldn't look at him. >> i couldn't look at him. >> at the dove home, tom's wife patty began to worry about her husband's health. >> he tends to hold things in. you can't hold in that frustration and emotion without it affecting you. that kind of stress takes a toll on him physically and mentally. >> that's what you worry about?
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>> exactly. >> because she knew if he didn't solve the jessee case, he might die trying. >> he's like a dog with a bone. he's going to take it and do it until it gets done. >> dove was not alone. there was a prosecutor who shared his feeling. michael murray who wanted sandra jessee and her group as bad as dove. >> this was full of obstacles. >> it would have been possible to let it go at that point. >> maybe to some people. >> they flew to phoenix, presented their evidence to the state attorney general and pleaded for a wiretap warrant. and they got it. the game was back on if they could make it work. >> we were going to try to set a trap for three people and keep track of those three people. and i wasn't sure if it was going to work or not.
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>> if it didn't -- >> in the back of my mind, i gave it probably a 30% chance of success. >> but you're giving yourself a 70% chance of being a goat at the end of the day. >> it had to be perfect. we were only going to get one try. >> so tom began to compile a team of investigators. even called darren wyatt, the first detective on the case to see if the placentia pd wanted in. >> i said let me fall at your feet. this is going to be good. >> the phoenix pd also provided scores of officers. by game day he had close to a hundred cops working the case. >> i'm reminded of that mouse trap game you play when you were a kid. this huge ball bearing was going to have to go through a tremendous amount of obstacles that were thrown together in order to lower the trap and catch the mouse.
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anywhere along the line there could be a snag. there could be something we hadn't planned for that cowl throw this ball completely off the board. >> okay. so what was the plan? what was the nature of your trap, of your mouse trap? >> we believed that if we did something to get these people uptight, if we were a i believe to rattle the tree, put fear in them that maybe the police were on to them that they would talk about the murder of jack jessee. >> so what was the piece of cheese you put into that trap? >> we mailed a simple copy of the newspaper article when jack jessee was murdered anonymously to sandra jessee, tom aelhert and brett schrauben. the significance of that was they didn't know we knew about brett schrauben. they're going to know something's up. >> and sure enough, as soon as tom heard brett got an anonymous letter, he called his mother
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sandra. >> whoever sent out that crap sent one to brett too. >> give me a break. >> really. >> you're kidding me. >> no. i would not kid about something like that. >> they sent one to breath snt. >> yeah. >> why would they send one to breath t, how would they even -- >> i have no clue. >> next they started poking brett's friends in california. >> leave your name and number and i'll get back to you. >> hey, dude. it's me. you need to [ bleep ] call me asap. this is no [ bleep ] joke. some guy from the sheriff -- orange county sheriff's department, homicide division was calling me asking about you. >> brett in turn called tom. >> hello? >> hello. >> tom? >> hey, what's up? >> hey, i just got a call from scott. the orange county homicide division called scott and want to talk to him about me.
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>> about you? >> yeah. >> what are you on right now? >> i'm on my cell phone. >> are you comfortable or no? >> no. >> that little mouse trap ball was making its way through the maze. but after a few days of the game, sandra, tom, and brett began to wonder if they were getting played, suspected their phones were tapped maybe their houses bugged. >> i want to talk for a couple second. i'd rather just pick you up and go back to the church or something. >> the church? >> just somewhere outside. >> okay. >> away from your place or my place. >> okay. >> and not on a cell phone. >> okay. >> okay. when would you have time? >> now. >> and so they started meeting in shopping centers. >> we decided to put surveillance teams on each of the individuals, sandra jessee, tom aelhert, and brett schrauben. during the duration of the wiretwire
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trap to catch things they may not do while the wiretap was in place. >> they'd stand shoulder to shoulder in a parking lot watching out the parking lot and not looking at each other. >> there it was like a scene from some mafia movie. the suspects out of range of recording devices apparently deep in conversation as they peered into the parking lot. >> i think the photographs of tom aehlert and sandra jessee were worth a million into how far they would go to conceal what they had done. they feel they got away with the perfect crime. >> he would go back to pressure schrauben's friends for information. he was, of course, relentless. chased down anybody who knew the man. followed one tip to another. until dove finally encountered the man he'd been hunting for years. the bar tender who called in the anonymous tip years earlier. >> and the first words out of my
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mouth were hi, mike. i'm here about brett and his face went flush and said i knew you were going to find me. >> what story did he tell you? >> that for some reason schrauben had told specific details o the murder including his involvement. that was a huge quantum leap for us in putting this case to rest. >> now the time had come to spring the trap. brett schrauben was arrested and soon thereafter sandra jessee herself was in handcuffs. finally to be held accountable for jack jessee's murder. >> that was wonderful. best three-day weekend i had. >> that was a pretty good day. >> didn't last. for one thing, tom was not arrested. insufficient evidence, said the prosecu prosecutor. then as he rolled it out, that ball came off the track again.
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this time at sandra's preliminary hearing. the judge ruled there wasn't enough evidence to hold her. she was free to go. >> i sobbed all the way back home. i don't know how i made it back. >> only brett schrauben was to face a murder trial. it was the summer of 2006, eight years after the death of jack jessee's murder. and justice? not yet, if ever. coming up, finally the break detectives had been waiting for. >> she wanted jack dead. >> the information he provided would blow the case wide open. >> until something slammed it shut again. when "dateline" continues. members of congress. in celebration of over 75 years of our government employees insurance company, or geico...as most of you know it. ...i propose savings for everyone! i'm talking hundreds here... and furthermore.. newcaster: breaking news. the gecko is demanding free pudding. and political parties that are actual parties! with cake! and presents!
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after month can do a lot to alter a person's take on the world. even more so if the inmate is looking at a possible life sentence. and that's when bret schrauben had an epiphany. just days before his murder trial was to begin, he said he was finally willing to testify against tom and sandra. but he wanted out. now. the deal had to be for time served or nothing at all. >> what'd you think when you heard what he wanted in order to get his cooperation?
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>> i thought it was outrageous. but it's not a perfect world. and the people who are likely to have some of the best detailed information about what takes place inside a conspiracy is a co-conspirator. we needed it. >> what was the story? >> the story was a pretty detailed and amazing story. >> schrauben described the whole affair on tape. laid it out in all its chilling detail. anatomy of a murder. the conspiracy was launched, he said, with a phone call from tom. >> he told me his mom would give $50,000 to kill his dad. >> she gave him a $5,000 deposit. >> she wanted jack dead and done at the house to look like a robbery. she told me she would leave for x-amount of time and that's when it needed to be done. >> he hired his good friend t.j.
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garrick to be the getaway driver. and while she was getting her nails done, they drove to the house to murder jack. >> i was already having cold feet on the way there. by the time i was down the street i was really having cold feet. i got in the house, standing in the garage now. and i put on rubber gloves and reached inside the door and shut it. i couldn't do it. i went to the car. i said the door was locked. so that way it wouldn't look like i chickened out. i called tom and i told tom. said the door is locked. and he said that he would call his mom and get back to me. >> and according to schrauben, tom called back within minutes with a backup plan. >> he told me his mom was going to go out that night and that it needed to happen tonight because he mom can't take it anymore. and he said if we didn't do it
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tonight, she was going to do it. i said i wouldn't wl do it. and t.j. said he would do it if i drove. >> so they returned that night about 9:00. he dropped t.j. off at the house and drove around the neighborhood while t.j. snuck inside and stabbed jack jessee to death. >> we had walkie-talkies. afterward he called when he was done and told him to pick him up. so i'm turning to go back. he had a little blood on his legs. we looked for a place to clean himself up. there was an outside place for him to clean himself up. >> the information he provided, if we could corroborate what he said, would blow the case wide open. >> t.j. garrick was questioned and denied everything. other than schrauben's statement, there wasn't enough evidence to hold him. so he was allowed to walk. and investigators focused on
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building their case against tom and sandra. by documenting money transfers, phone calls, air travel. >> so when you add all that together, what'd you think? >> i thought we were starting to put together a pretty good case. >> good enough that murray had tom and sandra arrested. and in the summer of 2009, 11 years after the murder, the mother and son team went on trial for the murder of jack jessee. >> going to court was like going to my dad's funeral every day. it really was. you're around people you know killed your dad. it was a ridiculous feeling. you can't even put it into words. just soul wrenching. >> schrauben testified against them. in court it was argued sandra had a variety of motives for killing jack. she wanted his money before medical bills ate up their savings. and she couldn't bear being away from her son tom. >> do you think the case had gone well? >> i thought the case had gone extremely well. >> except once again that little
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ball came off the track. >> what happened? coming up, the story of a murder caught on tape. >> when "deadly conspiracy" continues.
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(alarming ringing)ike a totally normal day (blender) (opening a can) (meow) (child's laughter) "i love you" i mean i guess i was a little sweaty and
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i was definitely sore (grunting) i thought i had gas turns out, i was having a heart attack (plate breaking) (hard exhale) heart disease is the number one killer of american women so now i take care of my heart and i tell the women in my life to do the same >>sounds great by the way that's nice sweety but thats not my heart that is find out more from the american heart association at goredforwomen.org when the jury went into seclusion to deliberate, the jessee family thought justice was just hours away. but as the sun set on the courthouse, nothing. no word. same thing again next day. and the day after that. the problem? there was a holdout. >> it got very heated. >> yes. >> these members of the jury
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told us 11 voted for conviction. but there was one lone juror who felt some level of compassion for sandra. >> she related to the sandra jessee concern that jack jessee's illness would eat up their nest egg. >> i felt like she was enjoying the control she had. >> there was nothing. nothing we could do or say. >> people were getting so heated and there was so much anger that she started to shut down even more. >> and that scene played out for three and a half days until the judge said enough and declared a mistrial. >> i was in tears. >> i was too. and thinking of the family and what they've gone through. that was heart ache. just heart ache. >> i thought i was going to pass out. >> yeah. it was horrible. >> it was just -- >> like it happened all over again. >> that one juror, you know, i saw her.
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i went to talk to her. >> what'd you say? >> i said she was an idiot. >> it was certainly difficult for me. it was far more difficult for the family. >> murray promised the family justice. spent two years putting a new case together. and just weeks before trial, he got a call. it was from tom's attorney. saying his client was ready to cut the apron strings and and against his mom. >> there's no way that we ever suspected that tom aehlert would ever turn on his mother. he was known to be a momma's boy. >> but a momma's boy who decided he didn't want to die in prison. tom pleaded guilty to second degree murder, got 15 to life. besides helping connect the crime to his mother, he had somebody else he wanted to give up. t.j. garrick the alleged stabber. he claimed at a party in 2004 he told him how he murdered his stepfather and on tape he repeated to murray and
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detectives the gruesome tail. >> he saw jack at the front window. he turned around. jack made a comment to him wanting to know who the hell he was. jack came at him, threw the phone at him. and t.j., he said the phone hit him. and that he tried to take a swing at jack with the knife. and jack had his hands up. >> remember he was frail recovering from colon surgery. and not expected to fight back. >> and they fought. he said jack was a lot stronger than he was supposed to be and at first he didn't think he was going to be able to get jack down to the ground. said he had to stab him a couple of times in the chest before he was able to at least get him to where he could control him and took him to the ground. but jack was still breathing. he was lying face down. the last thing he did was stabbed jack in the back.
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>> tom's statement was strong enough to get t.j. garrick arrested. he's in custody now, insists he's innocent, and waits for a trial that may be years away. but sandra, her case went to court one month after her son states evidence. and as the jury deliberated and the family waited, there was no euphoria. they knew from bitter experience that anything could happen. >> it's a lot harder this time not knowing what's going to happen. >> on the second day, they got word. the jury had the verdict. >> my stomach's in knots. . >> i'm shaking. >> we're just very nervous at this moment. >> 13 years after jack jessee's murder, sandra jessee was found guilty. and finally that little ball stayed on its track. the mouse was caught.
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>> i hope that she rots in hell. i just really do. i'm glad it wasn't the death penalty. i want her to stay there and suffer with all the other miserable people that go to prison. >> what's it feel like to get justice finally? >> it feels good. it feels good, but not complete. not complete. lost a guy. the nicest guy i ever met. >> and for tom dove, he's now retired from the sheriff's department and at his going away party, his fellow detectives gave him this. it honors his commitment to the jessee case. >> it means more to me than any other plaque or award i've ever received in my life. >> and in retirement tom says he hopes to set up a shelter for stray dogs. the urge to rescue runs deep. that's all for now. i'm lester holt. thanks for joining us. this
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press," our special election day preview. two days now until the candidates make a final sale and this campaign comes down to what may be a photo finish. has the politics of the race shifted after hurricane sandy's devastating effects along the east coast? >> an entire region remains crippled and hurting tonight. >> the credit on the scene of disaster in new jersey, and gets high marks from a political foe. >> the president has been all over this, and he deserves great credit. >> what more should the federal government do to get life back to normal in the storm zone? and should more attention be paid to a changing climate impact on the severity of these storms plus, the final sprint of the campaign. can the president's midwestern firewall hold in mitt romney's efforts to expand the battleground map? we cover it all this morning
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with the architect of the president's re-election campaign, white house senior adviser david plouffe. and majority leader of the house, republican congressman from battleground virginia eric cantor. also, our new head-to-head numbers in our poll and a primer on each side's path to 270. our political director chuck todd. and then what issues mattered most in the campaign, like jobs? new jobless numbers out just days before the vote. and romney's religion and even foreign policy. our roundtable will weigh in. democratic mayor of newark, new jersey, cory booker. host of msnbc's "morning joe" joe scarborough. republican strategist mike murphy. co-toast of "today," savannah guthrie. and nbc news special correspondent tom brokaw. live from nbc news election headquarters at democracyaz